A recent survey of 42 Anglican (Church of England) bishops by the Sunday Times revealed that 40 of them, or 95%, believe in the possibility of alien life on other worlds. Thirty-one, or 74%, said some of that alien life might be intelligent.
These beliefs are seen as a departure from traditional church dogma which holds that man is unique in the cosmos and created in the image of God.
According to Henry Richmond, Bishop of Repton, "Alien life forms could exist. I'd like to think that ETs were human-like but we might have to adjust our ideas and recognise that even little green men are another form of intelligent life that we oughtn't to feel threatened by."
Michael Turnbull, Bishop of Durham, said the discovery of other life could be a positive force. "God created all life. If it were possible to engage with life on other planets it would open our lives to the greater wonders of God's creation."
Most of those surveyed agree that the discovery of alien life would require a reappraisal of traditional doctrine.
On the question of whether God might personally visit other worlds, Mark Green, Assistant Bishop of Chichester, said, "I would not be shocked if he had. If he has children on different planets he would visit them, the way a father would visit his children in different parts of the country."
According to Lindsay Urwin, Bishop of Horsham, "Religion has never just simply looked at the Earth to learn about [God]. The Bible says the heavens declare the glory of God and I would say that whatever is up there declares the glory of God."
Frank Weston, Bishop of Knaresborough, agreed. "I am happy with an expanding universe and I am happy with universes beyond this one. God is an almighty creator and you can't limit his creativity. There must be life in other ways. I am rather excited about it."
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